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Fall Is So Yin: Embracing Autumn Energy

An autumn composition: cup of coffee, plaid, autumn leaves to show the yin of fall


“The fall/winter ... is full of yin energy, a darker, softer, slower energy. Now is the time to head indoors, eat warm cooked food, and get close to our loved ones.”

It’s September. Synonymous with back-to-school time, many of us have this month programmed into our systems as a time for new beginnings.

Energized from a summer of resting or traveling or sitting on the beach, we make big plans for our school or work lives, ready to attack the “new year.”

Not in 2020. The present moment might feel scary or weird or kind of a mess—we don’t know exactly what the near future is going to look like or how long any arrangement will last. We can’t approach the new year with the same sort of energy that we have in the past because the summer may not have been quite as restorative. We also can’t plan. We can get some things rolling, but we’re living with so much uncertainty that the natural go-for-it energy of September doesn’t feel quite … natural.

But that’s okay. As fall begins, we have an opportunity to potentially slow down, be still, and reflect a little more deeply than we have in a long time. This is the natural energy of the fall, which is a yin season. As the energy of the sun shifts, our bodies naturally want to turn inward, focus on reflection, and be alone a little more. This winter promises to be a true winter—a time of resting, staying inside, and not-doing. Boredom and isolation can be painful, but they can also be great teachers.

Maybe this isn’t the year to jump forward into a bunch of new plans. Maybe this is the year where we simply practice going with the flow—as stagnant as that flow might feel right now. Our culture can make us feel awkward when we're resting, waiting, not knowing what’s going to come next. But these are the hallmarks of yin energy—a darker, softer, slower energy—which is what we need to nourish ourselves during the cold, dark months.

We can adjust our focus in on the day-to-day. While we might have the tendency and desire to leap on a bunch of new opportunities, it’s also okay to rest a little longer, do a little less, pull back from all the hustle and bustle.

Trying to figure out a new normal means, in part, letting go of the old normal. Things aren’t as they were before and they aren’t going back to that anytime soon. Maybe they never will. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

We can learn a lot in the slowness of isolation and stagnation. We can learn a lot wading through thigh-deep stress, if that’s where we’re at in this situation. The seasons continue to cycle, and the moon continues to fill and empty, phasing through its cycles every month. Our bodies are shifting and changing too, and when we slow down, we might be able to feel that a little bit more.

From an energetic perspective, our bodies want us to slow down in the fall and winter months. When the sun becomes cooler and less present, there’s less yang energy in the air. Most of us use this bright, summery energy to be outside, to run around, and to take a break from work.

The fall/winter yin season—or moon season as I like to think of it—is the time to head indoors, get close to our loved ones, and eat warm, cooked food. We often want to rev up our careers on our computer screens in the fall, but what if instead of that we just focused on caring for our bodies and allowing time to drift by at its own pace?

We will get through this. Maybe it’s not a time to move forward into the energetic new year. Maybe it’s a time to be exactly where we are.

Practice this ritual for the Autumn Equinox.

Julie Peters

Julie Peters is a staff writer for Spirituality & Health. She is also a yoga teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) and co-owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in Vancouver, BC, with her mom, Jane. She is the author of Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (SkyLight Paths 2016) and WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault (Mango Media 2019). Learn more at Follow her at @juliejcp.

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